Thomas Austin Preston Jr. is one of the great legendary figures in the world of professional poker, but to most fans he is much better known as “Amarillo Slim”. Strangely enough, Amarillo Slim isn’t a Texan by birth. He was actually born in Johnson, Arkansas, on December 31, 1928, but he now does reside in Amarillo, Texas.
Amarillo Slim is a colorful throwback to the “old days” when poker – then regarded as a disreputable game – was played in the back rooms of saloons, pool halls, and cramped, smoke-filled rooms in sleazy hotels.
Slim was what was known as “a rounder” or card shark, a professional gambler who made his living hunting for “fish”, gullible players with fat bankrolls who thought they were better players then they actually were.
Amarillo traveled the country in his constant quest for “fish”, or just looking for some poker action where ever he happened to be, often accompanied by fellow “rounders” Doyle Brunson and Sailor Roberts.
Slim is assuredly the stuff of which legends are made, and it was only natural that he should publish his autobiography, “Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People” in 2003 in which he tells of poker games played with U.S. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, as well as Hustler Magazine publisher and casino owner Larry Flynt.
Amarillo Slim did not, however, earn his legendary reputation due to his colorful past alone, it was his exceptional poker-playing skills that initially brought him the fame he enjoys today. Slim, in fact, is a four-time World Series of Poker event winner having won his four bracelets in:
• 1972 – $10,000 No Limit Hold ‘ em World Championship – $80,000
• 1974 – $1,000 No Limit Hold “em – $11,100
• 1985 – $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha – $85,000
• 1990 – $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha – $142,000
It could be said that Amarillo Slim has brought more world-wide attention to the world of professional poker than any one individual, having appeared on such high profile TV shows as 60 minutes, The Tonight Show and Good Morning America, among others. He was also cast in a 1974 gambling movie, “California Split”, starring George Segal and Elliot Gould, and directed by Robert Altman (M*A*S*H – NASHVILLE).
Slim is generous with his advice to new poker players and been quoted as offering these words of poker wisdom:
1. Play the players more than you play the cards.
2. Choose the right opponents. If you don’t see a sucker at the table, you’re it.
3. Never play with money you can’t afford to lose.
4. Be tight and aggressive; don’t play many hands, but when you do, be prepared to move in.
5. Always be observing at a poker game. The minute you’re there, you’re working.
6. Watch the other players for “tells” before you look at your own cards.
7. Diversify your play so others can’t pick up your tells.
8. Choose your speed based on the direction of the game. Play slow in a fast game, fast in a slow game.
9. Be able to quit a loser, and for goodness’ sake, keep playing when you’re winning.
10. Conduct yourself honorably so you’re always invited back.